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San zimei (2012)

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Three sisters live alone in a small village family house in the high mountains of the Yunan region. Their parents are nowhere to be seen. The three little girls send their days working in ... See full summary »



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Three sisters live alone in a small village family house in the high mountains of the Yunan region. Their parents are nowhere to be seen. The three little girls send their days working in the fields or wondering in the village. As their aunt finds difficult to provide food to the girls, the father returns to the village. He has come to take the girls with him to the city but he then agrees to leave the older one under the supervision of her grandfather. Written by anonymous

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Release Date:

16 April 2014 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Three Sisters  »

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Edited into Gudu (2013) See more »

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10 November 2014 | by (Italy) – See all my reviews

Eighty families live at an altitude of 3,200 metres, in the South-West of «People's Republic» of China. The camera follows the quotidian life of one of those, providing a portrait of rural existence.

I deem «realistic» colours and lighting, despite they are coherent with the narration, reduce a film, but also a documentary as we have here, to a lower grade. This film makes sense as a work aimed at the average 22th century inhabitant of advanced countries, who is in ignorance of rural life. These viewers are they who will perceive «San Zimei» the wise it is intended to be perceived in; its peculiarity merely coinciding with the ordinariness of peasant life in preindustrial society.

Response from the average spectator has proved that a series of scenes displaying what was the life of nearly the whole world population up until a few decades ago is now felt as estranging, or — which is disquieting — just mistook for an array of oddities. As if a considerable part of the human kind would have already parted from the Earth, and turned unable to recognize their ground. Which, in turn, could be viewed as explanatory of the radical overwhelming global unawareness towards world environment status and future.

Awards to actors and films have sadly been always minimally meaningful, and in a time where it is customary to women to be awarded owing to being women, to the Chinese to be praised owing to belonging to a rising empire, the prizes this production was given at several cinema contests are less meaningful still, with those achieved in Dubai being as ironical a paradox as acknowledgement can be for a work that is a tribute to the humble, if achieved in a place under tyranny and awe whose cultural and political kernel is privilege, where the poor are under the slavery of other people rather than the natural fatigues of the country.

It may be to be noted that no artistic take at all is present, never the intention or capability to add anything to plain documenting being there.

Diversity from reality shows is uttermost. Whereas in the latter there is nothing but feigning and we behold the devastating metamorphosis that the human person inflicts to themselves once set — or feeling themselves as set — constantly before a mirror. Here it is not even possible to pretend to believe these aborigines behave as if not at the presence of strangers, nonetheless they are much more credible.

In his trip to Guyana Werner Herzog noticed the indifference of aborigines, even toddlers, in front of an hot-air ball, without a doubt the largest flying object they had ever seen. He was explained that, since they lacked any idea of the balloon's function, it represented nothing for them. Peasants in the film look unaware of the camera. Hence stands out the difference, by our time anthropological, difference from modern well-off people: the conception— certainly prevalently subconscious in many of these — of reality as show, as fiction: not just one but the most powerful of relativistic mindsets. Human kind is not at risk, as long as his conditions of life do not expose him to the possibility of ending up by staring at himself in a mirror frequently and long, to reach the suspicion of being merely an image.

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